A bar is like a lover. You can fall out of love at first fright
There is a bar, and there is ‘my bar.’ The first is any bar with booze, an opener and urinal. My bar has the possessive form of owning it through being a habitué of its drinking tables. You own it because you can drink on the strength of the black book containing debts you have just cleared. You can change television channels, serve yourself.
Searching for a joint which you will gradually call ‘my bar’ and where you will often report when dying to wet your gills, is harder than hunting for a rental house in Nairobi.
A bar is like a lover. You can fall out of love at first fright. You walk and you can tell the frowning, matronly bar girl with a scrawl at the counter will often be shouting “usini harakishe kama diarrhea” when she takes too long with your order.
To fall in love with a bar, you have to fall in love with the counter girl. Having changed your mind with this bar called Nayo-Nayo Lounge, you head to its urinal at the back end, try to shiver some pee and leave and you overhear the scrawling barmaid telling the bar “sasa huyo ameleta tu mkojo!”
The second bar is no better. You walk in and you can tell from the graying heads, cornrowed foreheads, yellowing photos of President Kibaki and broken fridge that Grapes Bar is the preserve of retires without Shags. All waitresses have Calico dresses which appear to have been fashionable in your grandmother’s era. Patron are drinking from what appears to be those glasses peculiar to milky tea kiosks in rural Igamba-ng’ombe.
You also don’t mind that waiter called Kanana, the one with a sandpapery voice that tickles your loins, big brown seductive eyes
You leave Grapes, really sour Grapes and head for the third bar and it’s now going to 8pm. Shoes are getting dusty, throat too.
You enter Teke-Teke Wines & Spirits and hit gold: the brown dimpled waiter is plumpy, round like a brandy barrel. She is asking you “utakunywa nini daddy?” and from her toothy smile and sunny disposition you will hit it off like Linturi and Kittany-“willing buyer, willing seller.”
You also don’t mind that waiter called Kanana, the one with a sandpapery voice that tickles your loins, big brown seductive eyes. There are some working class lasses at the far corner, one swinging her head to old Rhumba. Teke-Teke, has teke teke. It is love at second sight.
There is a group of dudes, one you hear is called Brayo and yarning how “we were driving up Mai-Mahiu in my Legacy when we saw this stray sheep…kimchezo mchezo we dragged it inside the boot tukaichinja Naivasha” and you can tell Brayo will be a drinking buddy before Punguza Mzigo or the Bangi Bill are enacted, whichever comes first but hopefully the boza one.
“Naitwa Skonye”, coos the barreled counter girl hissing open your drink, slightly brushing her dashboard on your shoulder. Goose bumps replace your spinal cord. You take a sip, the world turns on its axis at Teke-Teke Wines & Spirits.